Most of the big news at the 2015 New York International Auto Show took place on the first day of the media preview, with the introduction of the Cadillac CT6, production bound Lincoln Continental and Honda Civic concepts and an all-new Chevy Malibu, as well as the Porsche 911 fighting McLaren 570S. With that in mind it’s easy to understand why the press conferences for Elio Motors and Lyons Motors were relatively sparsely attended, being held on the second press day, though the two startups faced different obstacles in getting attention. Elio’s stand at the show was with the trucks on the lower level of the Javits Center, away from most of the cars, and reporters, upstairs. Lyons Motors’ head Kevin Lyons held his press conference in the concourse on the main level, but it was easy to miss as they had no car on display, just an empty piece of carpet and a lectern. (Read More…)
Tag: Elio Motors
Elio Motors, the startup automaker hoping to produce and sell a low cost, high mileage reverse trike announced yesterday that the prototype of the IAV designed 0.9 liter, three cylinder single overhead cam engine to be used in their vehicle has successfully started dynamometer testing. A short video of the engine running in a test cell has also been released. While it remains to be seen if Elio will be able to raise the $200 million or so they say they need to start production in 2016 (pushed back from this year), the engine test is one of the more important steps on the journey to reach that goal. (Read More…)
While there has been ample skepticism of the Elio Motors enterprise, I’ve personally been one of the more optimistic, or at least less skeptical voices concerning the project. All along, though, I’ve said that there were benchmarks that had to be met, like progress on the IVL led Elio engine development program and the beginning of hiring in earnest for Elio’s facility in the former General Motors plant in Shreveport, LA, and that the time for skepticism would begin if and when those benchmarks weren’t met. Elio isn’t trying for a moonshot, just a 1,200 lb 55 horsepower reverse trike using mostly proven components, so whatever barriers to getting the enterprise off of the ground are mostly financial, not technological. Now, it seems that Elio will be missing one of those benchmarks, or at least moving the goalposts, as it scrambles to put together the almost quarter billion dollars Paul Elio says he needs to start production. (Read More…)
The Texas DMV has refused to register the new Polaris Slingshot, saying that motorcycles must be ridden from in a saddle, not driven from on a seat. The Slingshot and proposed Elio trike are both being marketed as motorcycles, as three-wheelers do not have to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for automobiles. Elio has told TTAC that they’re exempt from the Texas standard because their vehicle has an enclosed cab. We asked them if they’ve had discussions with the Texas DMV about their status. Elio’s vice president for governmental affairs, Joel Sheltrown, told me in an email,
Yes.. I confirmed this with TX DMV. Also the helmet and m[otorcycle] license exemption. We qualify in every instance to be registered in TX ..as a motorcycle. We will easily meet their requirements.
The makers of the spate of reverse three wheelers now on, or about to be on, sale including the Morgan 3 Wheeler, the proposed Elio Motors vehicle, and Polaris’ Slingshot, now just arriving at dealers, have used the fact that their vehicles are legally considered motorcycles, not cars to ease their passage through regulatory waters. As some critics of the Elio project have pointed out, those that live by their legal classification as not-cars, may also find legal realities that get in the way of selling their “motorcycles”. For example, will drivers be required to wear helmets in those jurisdictions that require them on motorcycle riders? With some already considering the Elio to be a form of birth control for single guys, having to wear a helmet inside it would make it even dorkier. Elio claims those problems are moot. Perhaps so, but just as Polaris is launching the Slingshot, a reverse trike starting at $20K, powered by a 2.4 liter GM Ecotec 4 cylinder engine, they have discovered that the State of Texas will not let the vehicle be registered there. (Read More…)
In it’s third quarter letter to investors, Tesla Motors announced that they are pushing back the start of production of their falcon-winged Model X crossover again, this time until the third quarter of 2015. This is the third time that production has been delayed for the Model X, which Elon Musk originally promised for 2013. That was subsequently pushed back to this year, then to late this year and now delayed again. Tesla put a good face on the delay, characterizing it as “a few months”, and attributing the later production start to more extensive validation testing, wanting to “delight customers” when the Model X does start deliveries.
The most recent news out of the Elio Motors will provide grist for the rhetorical mills of both skeptics and enthusiasts of the startup car company. As we anticipated in our most recent post about Elio, the company has applied for a loan from the U.S. Department of Energy’s newly revived Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. Though Congress had allocated $25 billion for the ATVM loans, less than half was disbursed before the program was put on hiatus in the wake of the failure of Fisker, which had been granted about half a billion dollars in loan guarantees. Elio Motors announced that it will be seeking a loand of $185 million to “accelerate the company’s plans to begin production” of their enclosed tandem reverse trike next year.
The Elio Motors project continues to generate skepticism. The latest is a post by Tavarish at Jalopnik’s CarBuying Kinja subsite giving us a half dozen reasons while the high mpg reverse trike will never come to be, Six Things That Could Kill Elio Motors Before It Even Launches. Tavarish isn’t the only skeptic. The consensus among automotive writers seems to be highly critical. While I enjoy being a contrarian and going against the stream I still don’t want to be a cheerleader for Paul Elio and his team, but I have to confess that there’s romance in the idea of someone starting their own car company. I also think that there is no reason short of raising enough money why they can’t put the car into production and meet their performance and safety specifications. I’m not so sure about Elio Motors meeting their $6,800 price point but I still don’t think the latest criticism is completely fair. (Read More…)
It seems that most of the media coverage of automotive startup Elio Motors and their proposed $6,800, 84 mpg reverse trike can be sorted into two groups: general media outlets that have taken a bit of a credulous gee whiz attitude, and automotive folks who have cast a more skeptical eye on the enterprise. I’m as skeptical and as cynical as the next guy but unlike many in the automotive community I actually think that Paul Elio and his team have a decent chance of at least getting their vehicle to production. Also unlike most of the critics, I’ve actually taken the time to talk with members of Elio managment along with one of their major backers and I’ve spent time with their prototypes. Perhaps because I’ve tried to give the project an even break the people at Elio have been pretty forthcoming with me and now they’ve let TTAC be the first automotive publication to have an extended and unsupervised test drive of their latest prototype. They figuratively tossed me the keys and literally said, “bring it back when you’re done.” That takes some confidence.
The real estate developer who holds the lease on the former General Motors assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana that Elio Motors plans on using has exclusively told TTAC that regardless of published reports, another tenant will not be replacing Elio and that the automotive startup has a signed lease for the facility and is on schedule with its plans to start production in early 2015.
In other news on the Elio front, the company had earlier indicated that while retail sales will be handled by factory owned outlets, parts, service and warranty work will be performed by a nationwide chain of repair shops. That chain has now been identified as Pep Boys. (Read More…)